Arizona bridge partially detonated after train derailment; nearby residents asked to evacuate

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PHOENIX – Crews on Sunday detonated a 150-foot portion of a bridge over Tempe Town Lake in Arizona that was damaged in a train derailment last week.

Eight to 10 cars carrying lumber and hazardous material derailed around 6 a.m. Wednesday on a railroad bridge over Tempe Town Lake. The 102-car Union Pacific freight train engulfed in flames on the more than 100-year-old bridge causing the structure to partially collapse on the south end. Two of the three cars that collapsed on the bridge were carrying cyclohexanone. One tank car leaked 500 gallons of the chemical after derailment before officials secured the car Wednesday night, according to Tempe Fire and Medical Chief Greg Ruiz. No one was injured by the flames, but fire officials said one person was treated for smoke inhalation.

A series of horn blasts warned those nearby to clear the area minutes before the stretch of rail bridge was detonated. Debris from the crash days before and the subsequent clean-up was still seen nearby. At about 8:15 a.m. local time, a brief spark and a puff of black smoke were visible as the designated portion of the bridge collapsed to the ground. A loud booming sound could be heard as the ground briefly shook.

Tempe police said in a tweet that a secondary inspection would be conducted to ensure all charges went off as designated. Prior to the detonation, Tempe police were seen ordering those gathered to go back inside shortly before 8 a.m. They asked residents to shelter in place and to stay away from windows over an intercom.

The contractor previously explained that the partial demolition involves putting charges around various parts of the bridge in addition to making small incisions that will allow for the most damaged section of the bridge to drop below. The detonation will not impact the rest of the bridge, she noted.

Nearby residents were asked to evacuate on a voluntary basis. However, few relocated to the designated evacuation center early Sunday.
Train derails, engulfs in flames

Chelsea Curtis, Arizona Republic

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